MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) reset anew its voting on the Chief Justice short list.
The JBC met this afternoon supposedly to cast its vote on the short list of candidates most qualified for the top judicial post, however, the voting was moved yet again to Monday, 11am, because the council failed to reach a consensus on the suspension or amendment of its disqualification rule.
Since the time of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. has been proposing for an amendment to the rule that disqualifies candidates to any judicial post and posts in the Office of the Ombudsman with pending criminal and/or regular administrative cases.
This rule is part of the Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council promulgated in October 2000.
Should this rule be relaxed, candidates for the Chief Justice post who will benefit are all public officials appointed by President Benigno Aquino III: Justice Sec. Leila De Lima, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairperson Teresita Herbosa.
De Lima faces three disbarment cases now pending with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Jardeleza has a pending administrative case in connection with his former post at the Office of the Ombudsman, and Herbosa faces a pending disbarment case filed in 2005 when she was still a private practitioner.
Tupas said the representative from the Executive Department, Atty. Michael Frederick Musngi, moved for the suspension of the rules which was met by several objections.
"There was a motion from the executive to suspend the rules... what is the decision of the council? Here, there was no censensus," Tupas said.
An issue which also failed to strike an agreement involved questions of integrity. Under Rule 10 of the Rules of the JBC, "[i]n every case where the integrity of an applicant who is not otherwise disqualified for nomination is raised or challenged, the affirmative vote of all the members of the Council must be obtained for the favorable consideration of his nomination."
"Each member has a veto power, meaning, since it was raised by a member, the vote should be unanimous," Tupas said.
"On the motion to suspend the rules and whether these issues involving integrity, there was no consensus. We moved for a break, there was a long break in spite of that, there was no consensus was reached. We decided that it is time for us to reset this on Monday," he added.
The JBC assured the public that there will be no more resetting or extensions of its voting. The JBC initially set the voting on July 30.